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Biology 103

kgould's picture

Nature, Nurture, and Nyhan's Syndrome

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Martin's picture

Treatment methods for Mental Illness: Which method has the best story?

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Three central methods for dealing with mental health problems dominate the therapeutic scene: pharmacological, cognitive behavioral, and psychodynamic/analytic therapy. Each method attempts to restore a state of well-being or health characterized by the patient's ability to interact with the world in a productive and coherent manner. CBT and Psychodynamic therapy attempt to solve the problems without necessarily using drugs and can therefore be grouped together as Psychotherapies, as distinct from Pharmacotherapy.

Mia Prensky's picture

Bulimia on the Brain

As a long time sufferer of bulimia nervosa, an eating disorder characterized by episodes of bingeing on food followed by purging either through the use of self-induced vomiting or by the abuse of laxatives and/ or exercise, often including episodes of self-starvation, I have struggled with the negative stereotypes that insist on eating disorders as being the result of vanity, the desire to be thin, a characteristic highly promoted in our culture as a key element to feminine beauty and attractiveness (2). While social and environmental factors cannot be discarded as playing a crucial role in the development and perpetuation of eating disorders, resulting in abnormal and often extremely dangerous extremes as an attempt to control weight, we must take into consideration the other factors, such as abnormal brain chemistry and genetics, that are now shown to influence and even predispose the development and persistence of eating disorders in certain individuals.

Biology Student 2006's picture

Stories of Life, Told in Time: A Commentary on the Bible

    In a few days, the mainstream global community will experience the annual change that signifies the “New Year.” In Times Square, a million people will count down to the beginning of the 2,007th new year. The Jewish people celebrated the 5,767th year back in September. The Chinese Buddhist calendar will assign a pig to represent the 4,705th year in February. Seemingly everyone has a different idea of how to count the passage of time, and what is conventionally accepted as the correct year by Western cultures differs significantly from other versions of time record. What exactly are we counting when we say it is the X New Year? Years since the birth of Jesus Christ? Years since humans started observing and recording lunar cycles? Years since The Buddha invited the animal kingdom to a mythical new year’s feast?
    Evolutionary scientists would have us believe that Homo sapiens have existed for approximately 200,000 years - a number far greater than those which appear on calendars, solar or lunar. Creation theorists would claim that humans came into existence a mere two days after the first fish and birds appeared on earth. All of these accounts tell basically the same story - that humans exist and have life - but they conflict drastically on matters of time.
Amelia Jordan's picture

Cocaine: Where It Comes From and Its Neurological Effects

To people all over the world cocaine is viewed as a taboo drug. It is the cause of addiction and death among other things, but is, nonetheless, used by people of all social classes. Models and celebrities make it seem glamorous but those who have been sucked in by cocaine’s addictive properties or have seen a loved one hit rock bottom because of it know that it can ruin lives. It seems as though something this detrimental could only be manufactured by humans, but is it? Where on Earth does this horribly addictive drug come from? Is there more than one form of ingestion? How does it integrate itself into and react with our brains? And finally, what makes it so great that one would want to use it again and again, even to a point where it is life-threatening?

Student's picture

Making Love Logical: The Neurological Process of Love

There is a great deal of emphasis on love, especially in terms of romantic relationships, in our society. The so called “falling in love”, the wanting to be “in love”, and ending a relationship that once contained love are important phases for us, and ones that we spend a great deal of time talking and thinking about. Romantic relationships are an interesting phenomenon in society, as the pathway to one involving love is long and complicated, and so we may say “falling” or “ instantly fell” in love to avoid thinking about this long route. The associations with love, and all that the word brings to mind, makes it nearly, if not impossible, to define. While much research is still being done, there have been discoveries on the neurobiological basis for romantic love, involving an increase in specific chemicals, such as dopamine, which plays a major role in the reward system of the brain. Following these recent findings may make us better able to understand the effects of “love” on the brain, which has confused and baffled us through much, if not all, of human history.

Student's picture

Book Commentary: Pale Blue Dot

Much of Pale Blue Dot, by Carl Sagan, deals with looking at the Earth from a new perspective. In this perspective, we are, like in a lab we completed, new to this planet, in search of life or intelligence without any prior knowledge. Sagan discusses why this planet is so unusual, and the many oddities associated with it that can we see simply from looking and using basic measuring tools. This book overlaps with much of what we’ve discussed in the course, challenging what we’ve learned and accepted as basic knowledge. It’s a new kind of science that I was able to better understand with the idea of science as a story-telling, making this book particularly more useful to me now than it had been in the past.

Cottage Pie's picture

At the Water's Edge

I read At the Water’s Edge Fish with Fingers, Whales with Legs, and How Life Came Ashore but Then Went Back to Sea by Carl Zimmer. This book focuses on evolution and in addition to providing facts and charts showing how evolution works also tells a story. It tells the stories of other scientists that have long been forgotten by high school biology books (including my AP Biology Text Book by Campbell Reese and Mitchell). This book shows how all of these scientists stories intertwine creating the the next chapter of the story of evolution which is then in turn studied by the next generation of scientists who further evolve the story of evolution.

Cottage Pie's picture

Pearls: The Unabridged Story

The Unabridged Story of Pearl Formation (and Categorization)

Did you ever, as a child wonder where pearls came from and then how they were made? Later on did you wonder if the oysters that provided pearls survived, or were at least eaten? Was pearl formation explained to you in way that ran as follows (or at least contains this information):

Cayla McNally's picture

Correlations Between Alcoholism and the Brain

As someone who has always had an interest in the social sciences, especially those dealing with addiction and compulsive behavior, I am intrigued by the role that the brain plays in substance abuse, especially alcoholism. While it has been discussed in class that most characteristics are influenced by both genes and the environment, I still wonder which plays the larger part in alcoholism, a person’s surroundings or their genetic information. Specifically in this paper, however, I plan to focus on how alcoholism affects the brain, and conversely, what role the brain plays in the disease.

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